Link to my Tuesday column. Full text below:
LOWELL COHN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | January 11, 2016, 8:53PM
The Raiders flopped once in Los Angeles. They’re about to flop again — before they even go there. This according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a lengthy article, the Times reports a growing consensus among NFL owners to pair the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers in an Inglewood Stadium. That means ixnay on a Carson stadium shared by the Chargers and Raiders. That means ixnay on the Raiders, who will get left in the cold.
The Raiders have spent decades in the cold. Must be chilly out there without mittens.
Why does the NFL prefer the Rams and Chargers to the Raiders? Let me count the ways. Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Chargers owner Dean Spanos are rich. Raiders owner Mark Davis isn’t. He’s richer than you and me, but he’s poor compared to almost every other NFL owner. If the NFL were Monopoly, he’d be Oriental Avenue. Hardly worth the effort even with a hotel.
Why does wealth matter?
Teams that move to Los Angeles pay a relocation fee of more than half a billion bucks. Not exactly chump change, although the teams will pay in installments. I hope you didn’t think NFL owners would allow teams to take over Los Angeles without getting a cut of the action. The league is all about money. But you already know that.
It’s clear Kroenke and Spanos can pay the relocation fee easier than the Raiders. With the Raiders it would be a financial hardship — everything is a financial hardship with them. The fee would take away money for Raiders free agents, so the move would help and hurt the Raiders at the same time.
The owners must notice.
Here are other anti-Raiders-moving-to-Los Angeles arguments.
Some owners and some suits in the NFL offices on Park Avenue in New York don’t see the Raiders as a top-level professional operation. I’m not talking football, where the Raiders have improved. I’m talking business. Can they promote themselves in the lucrative Los Angeles market? Do they even know how? Do they project the proper image for Los Angeles? There is something so mom-and-pop about the Raiders. It’s part of their charm.
But Los Angeles is not about charm. And it sure isn’t mom and pop.
The Raiders already made a mess of Los Angeles. That was after they made a mess of Oakland and before they made a partial mess of Oakland the second time. Follow the bouncing team. It’s certainly possible and reasonable the league has no confidence in the Raiders not to make a mess of Los Angeles yet again, not to make a mess wherever they go.
I have heard the NFL wouldn’t mind if Davis sells the Raiders. Blocking the Raiders’ move to Los Angeles could encourage a sale — maybe force a sale. The league has no loyalty to Davis. Or the Raiders. Why should it after Al Davis’ bitter anti-NFL legal history? A new owner would be a rich owner who could work things out in Oakland or wherever.
In other words, the Raiders are not desirable. Certainly not desirable in Los Angeles.
So what’s likely to happen with the Raiders?
Getting blocked from Los Angeles could be a benefit to the Raiders in a weird way. Or as they say in sports, there could be an upside for the Raiders. As a sop to them, the league might throw $200 million their way. Call it the consolation prize. This could salve Spanos’ conscience — he has promised to make sure the league takes care of Davis.
With the money the Raiders already have for a stadium, they could end up with $700 million as their contribution to a new ballyard. Not bad. With this dough the Raiders could negotiate with St. Louis, desperate for an NFL team. Or they could negotiate with San Diego, San Antonio or other cities that want big-time, big-money football.
Or they could work out a deal with the 49ers. This possibility always exists. A third team locker room sits vacant at Levi’s Stadium. Seriously, if the Niners could play in Santa Clara and call themselves San Francisco, the Raiders sure could play in Santa Clara and call themselves Oakland.
Santa Clara is kind of a wild-card burg and can be any city you want. It could be Paris one night. London the next.
Or — and get this — the Raiders could stay in Oakland. Over by Hegenberger Road and Highway 880 and the BART stop. With his 700 million bucks of mad money Davis could work something out with cash-poor Oakland. And stay where his fans are.
Where Toozak and Violator and Gorilla Rilla and Dr. Death and their pals inhabit the Black Hole and root for their working-class team. Well, their team with a working-class image. Raiders fans have been selling out the Coliseum to watch a team with a losing record. And although that may not count for much, it counts for something.
My guess — strictly a guess — is the Raiders stay where they are on a season-by-season basis. Stay longer than you might imagine. And eventually the Raiders and Oakland form a firm détente.
And the Raiders finally come in from the cold.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.